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Rules and Regulations: 
BLM New Mexico Law Enforcement

Many of rules and regulations enforced on BLM lands are listed in 43 Code of Federal Regulations. Additional regulations enforced can be found in 50 Code of Federal Regulations and various titles of United States Code.

In New Mexico, we frequently get questions about the laws and regulations that apply to:

Hunting & Fishing

Photo of Hunters

Hunting and Fishing throughout New Mexico is primarily controlled by the New Mexico Game and Fish. More information can be found at their website:

BLM in New Mexico does enforce game and fish regulations through the Sikes Act. The Sikes Act authorized conservation and rehabilitation programs on BLM lands. These programs are carried out in cooperation with the State. Other acts enforced include the Eagle Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Lacey Act, and Endangered Species Act

BLM officers often work directly with New Mexico Game and Fish Officers in the enforcement of wildlife and fishing regulations.

Target Shooting

Photo of Seated Man Shooting a RifleRecreational target shooting is generally allowed on public lands in New Mexico except in developed recreation sites or areas. Target shooting may also be restricted in some areas by the issuing of closure orders and/or supplementary rules.

The discharging of a firearm using an incendiary or tracer ammunition, and the burning, igniting, or causing to burn any tire, wire, magnesium, plastic, or any hazardous or explosive material (including exploding targets) may be prohibited when a fire prevention order has been issued during times of increased fire danger.

If you have specific questions on areas that may be appropriate for target shooting please contact the BLM Field Office you plan to visit.

Shooting, possession, and use of firearms are allowed on public lands managed by the BLM as long as the activity:

  • Does not create a public hazard, public nuisance or direct threat to public safety and use. This includes the shooting of any weapon from, across, or toward any road or trail, regardless of the road or trail surface, shooting in an unsafe manner, or shooting in an unsafe direction.
  • Does not damage or destroy natural features, native plants, cultural resources, historic structures or government/private property. This includes using any vegetation or structure as a target, backstop, or target holder.
  • Does not facilitate and create a condition of littering, refuse accumulation and abandoned personal property. The shooting of any glass bottle, container, or material that would break into small pieces and create a hazard or litter is prohibited. This may also include the use of exploding targets. All spent shells or brass are considered litter and must be removed by the shooter.
  • Does not violate an existing use restriction, closure order or supplementary rules notice.

In addition you must not possess or discharge a firearm or explosive device in violation of any New Mexico State Law. This includes possession of a firearm while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a controlled substance, and carrying a concealed weapon in violation of State law.

Cultural Resources

Photo of Pottery SherdsBLM New Mexico manages the agency’s largest cultural program.  The theft, disturbance, or vandalism of archaeological resources is against the law including the surface collection of arrowheads or pottery shards.  These illegal activities lead to the loss of important artifacts and can destroy the scientific information that could be helpful in analyzing the culture of the people who lived at the site.

BLM rangers, agents and archaeologists work closely together to monitor and protect our cultural resources and sites throughout New Mexico. To learn more about visiting cultural sites with respect, please view this video.

Every day, more and more people are getting involved to assist the BLM in monitoring and protecting these resources. One program, for volunteers that share a common goal of stopping vandalism and theft of our cultural resources, is the Site Steward program. To learn more about becoming a site steward in New Mexico, please visit: or

Paleontological Resources

Photo of Petrified WoodPaleontological resources are also protected by law.  Paleontological Resource Preservation became stronger with the passage of the “Paleontological Resources Preservation Act” (PRPA), as part of P.L. 111-11, the Omnibus Public Lands Act (OPLA) of 2009.  The PRPA/OPLA included provisions to ensure that the public may continue to collect a reasonable amount of common invertebrate and plant fossils on public land without a permit.
The act does not change BLM’s long-standing policy prohibiting the bartering or selling of casually collected fossils. Permits are required to conduct scientific inquiry and collect vertebrate fossils and other significant paleontological resources from public lands. Any paleontological resources collected under permit from public lands remain U.S. Government property and must be curated in an approved facility where they will be available for scientific research and public education.

The PRPA/OPLA includes civil penalties for illegal theft and vandalism of paleontological resources from public lands, and provides stiffer penalties for criminal theft and vandalism. The act also provides the BLM with the authority to offer rewards to the public who help BLM prosecute illegal activities on public lands.

Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Use

Photo of Off Road VehicleThere are several BLM ORV areas throughout New Mexico. Much of BLM land in New Mexico has been designated as limited use. In these areas, ORV use is limited to established roads.

In addition to BLM regulations governing ORV use, State laws for ORV use are assimilated by the BLM for enforcement.  ORV laws can be found on the New Mexico Game and Fish website. All ORV are requires to be registered of require a permit to be operated on BLM lands.

Things to know about ORV Use on Public Lands

  • Know where you’re permitted to ride.
  • Avoid wet areas and waterways. They are a vital resource for many plants and animals.
  • If you must cross water, ride carefully and only at designated spots.
  • Remember, cutting switchbacks and taking shortcuts damages trails and causes erosion.
  • Riding off trails can destroy animal burrows and spread noxious weeds that damage habitats and kill native plants.
  • Slow down then stop when you meet riders on horseback. Avoid sudden movements. Take your helmet off, while stationary, so the horse can recognize you as human.
  • Respect the rights of others on trails.
  • Know where you’re permitted to ride and where you’re not. Respect private property and closed areas.
  • Protect your right to ride. Remember, less sound equals more ground.

Wood Cutting

Photo of Woodcutting AreaAll cutting and removing of wood from BLM administered lands requires a permit and is allowed only in designated areas. Wood cutting permits are obtained at BLM District and Field Offices. The person issued the permit and the permit itself must be present during all wood cutting activity.

With the purchase of a permit, wood tags are issued. Wood tags are used to document the amount of wood harvested. Wood tags must be validated and affixed to the load of wood before it is transported.

Most wood permits are issued for personal use. A commercial wood cutting permit must be obtained for any wood that will be sold.

Common wood cutting violations include:

  • Cut/remove trees without a permit or in an area not open to wood cutting
  • Cutting green wood without a green wood permit
  • Transporting without a validated wood tag attached
  • Violating stipulations of permit

Oil and Gas

oil and gas program complianceBLM New Mexico manages one of the largest oil and gas programs in the BLM.  BLM Law Enforcement is responsible for investigating crimes associated with this program. These include incidents of theft of oil and gas resources and loss of associated royalties, theft and vandalism of equipment and property associated with oil and gas production, violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, hazardous material violations, and enforcement of vehicle laws on public land oil fields. 

BLM law enforcement also works directly with oil and gas employees and management to provide training on the regulations BLM enforces in the oil fields and conducts compliance inspection on oil field vehicles and drivers.

Supplementary Rules

Photo of family camping

Supplementary Rules are rules established by the State Director and may provide for the protection of persons, property, and public lands and resources. As part of establishing supplementary rules there is a requirement for proposed rules to be published in the Federal Register with a public comment period. These rules are meant to supplement the regulations contained in 43 Code of Federal Regulations. The rules may be established for the entire state, by individual District or Field Offices, or for specific areas. Violation of the supplementary rules is punishable of a fine up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months.

List of supplementary rules for BLM New Mexico


Photo of Agent and closed areaTo protect persons, property and public lands and resources the authorized officer may issue an order to close or restrict use of designated public lands. Closures are published in the Federal Register, but do not require a public comment period. Current closures are in effect for a maximum of two years.

To find out more information on closures for an area, please contact the local BLM office.






Proposed Statewide Supplementary Rules

News Release

Notice of Proposed Supplementary Rules for Public Lands in New Mexico (Federal Register)

Questions and Answers about BLM New Mexico's Proposed Supplementary Rules


Code of Federal Regulations

Supplementary Rules for BLM New Mexico